Category Archives: Business Stories

Odyssey-Pepsi to Apple

Sometimes, an ordinary question fired at us changes the very course of our life. The above Q falls in such a category. It was fired by Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers to John Sculley, the marketing wizard and President of Pepsi, ushering in one of the most fantastic transitions in the world of business. Odyssey-Pepsi to Apple co-authored by John Sculley with John.A.Byrne is not just the story of Sculley’s transition from Pepsi to Apple, but a story of a journey into unseen territories by one of the most famous, unconventional marketing wizards of corporate America, in Sculley’s own words.

This book is a must for all people involved in marketing. For it offers a first class lesson into the practical world of marketing, let alone what you learn in your B school. John Sculley takes you on a wonderful journey into two different worlds-Pepsi and Apple Computers and we get to read how John Sculley turned around both the companies.

The first half of the book deals with Sculley’s early life, his entry into Pepsi, his gradual but steady rise, his friendship and tutoring from Don Kendall, Chairman of Pepsi, the famous Cola wars where Sculley’s unconventional ideas helped unseat Coke from the market leader position and brought Pepsi into the halls of consumers, in his own words.

The second part deals with Sculley being courted by Steve Jobs, his subsequent refusal and self doubts on entering a different world, his entry into Apple, the early days, the Dynamic Duo, the clash of the titans, Jobs’ penchant of meddling in each and every aspect of Apple and Sculley setting the company right, Apple’s new birth from a computer company into a company with a larger vision.

This is one of my most cherished and favorite books. The marketing lessons sprinkled at the end of each chapter succeeding the practical implementation only makes you get more interested in reading this. This is a must on every avid book reader and marketer’s shelf.

John Sculley with his Pepsi bottles:

John Sculley with Steve Jobs and Steve Woz:

Jobs and Sculley:

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iCon-Steve Jobs

An apple a day keeps the doctor away-an old saying

(Listening to) an apple( ipod) a day drives your worries away-new saying

iCon-Steve Jobs by Jeffery.S.Young and William.L.Simon comes with a taglineThe greatest second act in the history of business. The book traces the rise of one of the most famous and cherished icons in the world of computer technology who also went on to stamp his mark in movie business(Pixar) and the music industry(ipods, iTunes)-Steven.P.Jobs or Steve Jobs.

This is a remarkable book. For it not only traces the history of an innovative company like Apple, but also traces the character of its eccentric co-founder Steve Jobs, the prince, who is a mixture of contradictions.

As we enter the world of Steve Jobs and Apple simultaneously, we learn of Steve Jobs’ roots and his adoption by Paul and Clara Jobs. His early years, his quirky character, bullying manners, his intense questioning of everything, his love for the hardware and how he hung out at electronic stores to learn about computers, his headstrong character which made everyone to believe in his vision everything. We get to know the early influences that shaped the man who Steve Jobs is today-admired by all, feared by his friends for his maniac demanding, his intense drive, et al.

It is interesting to note how Steve gets to know the other Steve-Steve Wozniak and the friendship that bloomed between these like-minded eccentrics fascinated about computers. We learn how Steve and Woz formed Apple Computers, the early computer expos, Apple’s IPO, Steve’s acumen at making deals out of thin air, the creation of Apple I and II, Macintosh, the growth of the company at its earlier stages, his attraction to Zen, Steve’s contradictory character-his encouragement and demand for complete loyalty to only himself and no one else-the way he sidelines friends and employees alike makes you gasp. The white board incident is one example of Jobs’ childish streak we will smile at. There are many such anecdotes which makes us wonder and remark that great people are indeed eccentric.

The later years as Steve battles with Microsoft and his efforts to bring in people who accepted his word without question-Jobs is a silver-tongued guy and is a speaker who can enthrall the audience for a stretch of two hours without tiring down and is a persuasive seller of ideas. His bringing in John Scully from Pepsi to run the business(they are told by Scully in his book-Odyssey from Pepsi to Apple co-authored with John.A.Byrne, Harper Collins) in the 70’s and 80’s. We learn how Steve Jobs got kicked out of his own company for the very meddlesome qualities which made him a star.

A person like Steve Jobs never gives up, and we journey again as Jobs finds NeXT,  his aggressive efforts in attracting the best talents from Apple as a revenge to his company, his pioneering spirits as he starts Pixar-the animation studio(remember Toy Story 1 & 2, The Incredibles, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo?) the deals with Disney(the place where Jobs goes for negotiation with Disney and intuitively turns a losing deal in his favour is a must read) speak volumes of Jobs’ enterprising spirit.

The later years as Jobs gets back into Apple and makes his mark in the music industry with the ipod and iTunes, the vision of how Jobs sees the industry and Apple itself in the future are brought out well in the later part of the book and are a treat to read.

The way Jobs turns each difficulty into an opportunity for himself and how his aggressive, brash qualities made him the prince in silicon valley albeit the most admired and hated man at once.

This is not only a business story but an interesting biography as it delves on the qualities that made Jobs what he is today and teaches us a plethora of lessons in each and every page. Reads like a fine novel, only that you will never put down the book till you have finished it.

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Jack-Straight from the gut

If you don’t know how to lose, you will never know how to win”.

“Don’t kid yourselves. That’s the way it is”.

-Grace Welch

Great values make great people. John Francis Jack Welch Jr, the most famous CEO, management expert and longtime chairman of General Electric(GE) is no exception. Known as ‘Neutron’ Jack for his outragious management policies, Jack Welch was the CEO and Chairman of GE from 1981-2001, arguably the most famous management person alive today.

It is always fascinating to read business success stories. They give you an insight into the values and characters of the people who dreamt about them, built them from scratch.  In that way, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Azim Premji, Larry and Sergei are remarkable persons.

Jack-straight from the gut tells the story of Jack Welch, of General Electric fame and his management policies defying conventional thinking as a result of which GE is one of the most successful companies in the world and Jack Welch the most famous CEO and chairman.

Co-authored with John.A.Byrne, Jack Welch tell us of his early childhood days in Salem, Massachusetts, USA and his entry into GE as a Junior Engineer for the Pittsfield plant of GE. From there, the story takes a rollercoaster ride as Welch gives us an idea of how he developed his business acumen and why he valued people more than anything and why it is important to trust yourselves more.

Welch tells us of the mistakes he committed(blowing the roof off the Pittsfield plant and lots more), his rise in the company, his frustrations regarding the bureaucracy in GE, his love for golf and his workaholic ways.

As we progress through each of the chapters, we learn, along with Welch what it needs to survive in a competitive world and why bringing out the best in yourselves and the people around you matters and why it is better to face reality than fool yourselves. Though considered a harsh way, demanding the very best actually helps you out in a competitive sense, understood in the right sense.

We also come to appreciate the passion that drove Jack Welch to achieve what he had done in his years, his adaptability to new ideas, his penchant for discussing business anywhere and sketching out his ideas on virtually any paper available, even on napkins, and his tenacity for striking deals that at first view appear ludicrous but later turn out to be money spinners. We learn of the deep love he shared with his mother who encouraged and supported him at every opportunity(her encouraging remarks are at the beginning of this post) which made Welch what he is today. There are many anectodes that Welch narrates which tells us what a visionary he is and his love for the job at hand. His passion that envelops anything and his innovative spirit, his relentless pursuits to weed out the useless and retain only the best are indeed management lessons to take up.

In a sense, reading such stories, that too business success stories help develop our competitive sense well and bring out the best in our characters. In that way, I would sure recommend this book as a definite read.

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